Government’s visa reforms are harming the UK

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Soft Power has warned the Coalition Government that it’s visa reforms and more hostile tone toward immigration are afflicting it’s reputation in the world (see

In its report, the Committee identified the education sector as being a ‘major contributor to soft power’. This, it argues, is because many high-profile people, including 27 world leaders, have studied in the UK. Many of these persons maintain connections with the UK in later life. Furthermore, British independent schools alone bring in around £750 million a year and have established ‘daughter schools’ in foreign countries around the world.

Yet the Committee pointed out that the Government is attenuating its soft power by introducing visa reforms to deter foreign students from studying in the UK. This, it says, is part of the Government’s wider agenda to reduce net immigration.

The Committee noted the Tier 4 visa reforms as a good example. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has introduced more stringent checks on academic qualifications as well as a new online interview to check applicants’ facility with the English language. In addition, the Government, in a purported effort to clamp done on bogus educational institutions, has removed the Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence of 700 colleges.

In light of this, the Committee made several recommendations concerning how the Government could improve its management immigration to avoid reducing its soft power.  The Government has yet to respond.